"At Least, Be Human" is the twenty-second episode of Neon Genesis Evangelion.
After being defeated yet again by an Angel, Asuka's synchronization ratio continues to drop, affecting her ability to pilot Unit-02. Flashbacks reveal Asuka's tragic childhood, which shaped her current abrasive personality. A new Angel, Arael, appears in Earth's orbit, well outside the range of any Earth-based weaponry, including the Evangelions. Asuka is told that she will be Rei's backup for the confrontation with the Angel. Infuriated, she launches herself and confronts Arael on her own, however Arael uses a telepathic attack which forces Asuka to relive traumatic events from her past, causing such mental distress that Asuka completely loses synchronization and Unit-02 shuts down. Gendo orders Rei to go to Terminal Dogma, retrieve the Spear of Longinus, and use it against the Angel. The Lance succeeds in penetrating Arael's A.T. Field and destroys it, but the Lance achieves escape velocity and enters a lunar orbit. Asuka is again angered by her defeat, worsened by her hatred of Rei.
The episode begins with Asuka and Kaji aboard an aircraft carrier of the UN fleet to take them to Japan (prequel to Episode 08). Asuka talks with Kaji about Misato and her (Asuka's) infatuation towards him, which he replied by saying that there are more suitable boyfriends for her in Japan; she rejects that and tries to seduce him, to a failure.
Asuka's traumatic childhood is shown; Asuka in her mother's funeral, Asuka's mother holding a doll and thinks that it is the real Asuka, while in the next room, Asuka's father is talking with Kyoko's doctor and then makes love with her. Asuka refuses to cry in her mother's funeral after her suicide in 2005.
Asuka's synchro ratio begins to take a downward trend after her defeat by Zeruel, Maya and Ritsuko notice that and Ritsuko suggests giving Unit-00 the priority of repairing. Misato then talks about the Evangelions and how humans use them to defeat Angels, although they are born from Adam, which caused Second Impact, and she concludes that she herself hates the Evangelions, being her father's murderer.
Hyuga then tells Misato about the beginning of the construction of Evangelion Units-05 through 13 in seven different countries without NERV's permission. Hyuga thinks that they are anticipating an attack of multiple Angels not as usual, but Misato doubts that and believes that there is another reason.
At the train station, Asuka tries to call Kaji (unknown to her, dead), and notices Shinji talking with Rei, leading her to jealousy. Asuka is seen ignoring Shinji and refuses to answer the phone, Asuka's stepmother (lady doctor) calls Asuka and both spoke in German, Asuka tells Shinji the truth about her stepmother and gets angry of why she is telling him all that. The screen switches to Asuka in the bath, and she declares her hatred for Shinji, Misato, Rei, her parents and herself the most.
Ritsuko notices Asuka's mental disturbance, because of her decreasing scores in synchro ratio tests. Asuka met Rei in the elevator, and after silence, Rei tells Asuka about the Evangelion and that it has a human's soul. Asuka slaps Rei after telling her that she is a mere doll for Commander Ikari. She then talks to Unit-02, and orders it to accept everything she tells it, and ends saying to herself "This is stupid". Right then, the emergency is declared at NERV Headquarters, an aerial Angel is approaching.
The Angel Arael appears, and stays in the Low Earth Orbit very distant from Tokyo-3. Rei is ordered to shoot the Angel, and Asuka as her backup, but Asuka refuses to be the backup and goes in the front. Maya asks Ritsuko about if it would be Asuka's last chance for piloting and Ritsuko says that they should look for a replacement for Asuka if she lost. Arael remains stationary at its far location on the Orbit, out of the Positron Rifle's range, and soon begins its attack, a psychoanalysis beam similar to an A.T Field, which began penetrating Asuka's mind.
Evangelion Unit-02 is muddled by Arael and start shooting inaccurately, causing damage to Tokyo-3. Asuka screams in pain as the Angel continues to enter her mind, Misato orders Asuka to retreat, but she refuses. The Angel succeed to enter her mind, revealing more of Asuka's shocking memories, and how she wanted to pay the attention of the others. Evangelion Unit-02 shut down, as Asuka said that her mind is polluted, and Rei tries to shoot the Angel with Positron Sniper Rifle (similar to the one in Episode 06), but the beam doesn't have enough power due to range and power limitations.
Gendo orders Rei to go to the Terminal Dogma and retrieve the Spear of Longinus (which is put into the crucified Lilith's torso). Rei throws the Spear at the Angel, which penetrated the Angel's A.T. Field and killed it. Shinji then tries to console Asuka, who is again angered by her defeat, worsened by the idea of Rei saving her.
Differences between the OA Version and the Director's Cut
- The opening credits are missing in the Director's Cut, being replaced by Asuka's failed seduction scene on the aircraft carrier.
- The original scene of Asuka's mind becoming corrupted by the Angel is limited to Asuka telling Arael to stop making her remember the things she wanted to forget.
- New scenes added to the Director's Cut version:
- A scene where Asuka tries (and fails) to seduce Kaji on the aircraft carrier.
- A scene in the bathroom where Asuka declares her hatred for everyone, including herself.
- A scene where Asuka sees Shinji talking to Rei and reacts with jealousy, paralleling a scene early on in the show where Shinji eavesdrops on a conversation between Rei & Gendo.
- Many scenes in the "mind corruption" scene:
- Most of the mind corruption including flashbacks to Episodes 09, 10 and 15.
- A sequence where Asuka, lost at a train station, is overpowered by a red & black mass of people.
- Many flashes to the opening of Episode 24.
- A scene where Asuka is forced to hear repetitions of her previous remarks throughout the course of the show, each cycle said in the voice of one of her female peers.
- In the original Japanese dub, Asuka's "this is my chance" lines during the mind attack sequence, reprising Episode:08, are voiced not by Asuka, but by multiple other female character's voice actress - Misato, Rei, Maya, Ritsuko and Hikari. In the ADV dub, Asuka's line is just repeated by her VA five times. This is corrected in the Netflix redub. Because this line is followed by Asuka observing it as a third party and saying "No! This is not me!", this is commonly interpreted as Asuka being faced with her "fake" outer shell.
- A scene where a young Asuka cries "So look at me!" in a parallel to the added seduction scene in the DC episode's opening.
- A scene where Asuka is confronted by her child self at the playground.
- A black screen with "SEX" written on it in bold white letters, which briefly shows up during scenes where words quickly flash across the screen. All instances of this shot were removed in the "Renewal" edition of Episode 22.
- The last few seconds of the hospital scene where we hear Langley and the Lady Doctor thrashing around in the next room.
- Lilith's lower body regenerating after the removal of the Spear.
- The addition of this scene affects Lilith's appearance in the DC version of Episode 24.
- The Spear of Longinus unfolding as it penetrates Arael's A.T. Field.
- The panning shot of the Spear of Longinus in orbit is replaced by a new sequence showing the spear tumbling in space.
- Based on Asuka's reaction at seeing Shinji in her mind during the attack ("What are you doing there?! You won't do anything! You won't help me! You won't even hold me!") along with the accompanying screenshots to flashbacks of important scenes in Episodes 09, 10, and 15 respectively, it appears that Asuka has feelings for Shinji and has been trying to get him to notice her all this time. See Theory and Analysis: Shinji and Asuka's Relationship for details.
- Arael and the next two Angels seem to form the three parts of a classical Angel: Arael representing the wings, Armisael the Halo, and Tabris the body.
- See Theory and Analysis:Film Montage Theory in Evangelion for an analysis of the montage sequences in this episode.
- In the expanded Director's Cut version of Episode 22, Anno also took inspiration from a 1996 doujin by author Nobi Nobita called Bridal Veil, which depicted an expanded mindrape scene itself. Curiously, while making his own scene, Anno made it clear that Asuka's feelings were directed at Shinji, having supplanted her crush for Kaji. It also adds more lines for Asuka bemoaning Shinji and makes this context even clearer by adding additional past scenes with Asuka and Shinji, like him rescuing her in Episode 10. This isn't made clear in the doujin, wherein it seems ambiguous if she's talking about Shinji or Kaji. This doujin has been translated on Evageeks and a full scanlation is also available on its thread.
- In her phone conversation with her stepmother in Part A, Asuka speaks German. The contents of which are roughly as follows: "Hello? Mother? We just finished eating. What about you? You want me to introduce him? Please, of course not. He's not sociable. Uh-huh, uh-huh. Really, wow, I didn't know. That's great. I don't have anything to say, either. Talk to you again later. I'm hanging up, okay? Well, goodnight!" This dialogue was not written in the script, and was left up to Yuko Miyamura, who plays Asuka. - Platinum Episode Commentaries
- Hyuga mentions that Arael "isn't budging from its satellite orbit", then Aoba says that "It's maintaining a set distance from" them. Although this should imply that Arael is in Geostationary Orbit, the shot of the lance heading for the Arael show that it is a lower orbit, since Geostationary Orbit(Which is 22,000 miles, or 36,000 kilometers above sea level) allows a full third of the Earth to be visible. Judging from the angle of the throw, the landmass under the Angel is probably Australia. While Geostationary Orbit can normally only be achieved by a satellite over the equator and at the previously mentioned altitude (36,000 kilometers), the raw power of the Angel's S2 engine could allow it to simply hover in any position in orbit, something impossible for a normal satellite.
- Just as it holds true for the Fifteenth Angel that appears in this episode, non of the Angels that appear in the fourth part [Episodes 21-26] launch brute force attacks, but instead, try to shake the Eva pilots psychologically. - Platinum Episode Commentaries
- In the fourth part [Episodes 21-26], the effectiveness of certain important scenes has been increased by the use of well-known classical pieces as BGM. The piece used in this episode is Handel's oratorio "Messiah." Messiah means savior and the lyrics have been taken from the Bible. The piece portays the prophecy of Christ's birth all the way to his resurrection in three parts. - Platinum Episode Commentaries
- Ritsuko comments that Arael is trying to communicate with Asuka, or she tries to understand the human mind.
- In Japanese, "to hold [someone]" is a double entendre of "having sex with". In effect, Asuka is not only lamenting that Shinji won't support her and hold her during the kiss, but that he didn't even at least give her affection through sex. It's a parallel with Gendo and Ritsuko.